POLI has blown the roof off the political parrots’ debt ceiling squabble with the 14th Amendment solution—is it leaderboard-worthy? Let’s find out because it’s BOX SCORE Friday. Time to think outside the box and your usual news silo.
14th Amendment be invoked to avoid a US debt default?
The 14th Amendment states, “the validity of the public debt…shall not be questioned.” This clause suggests the President has the power to override the debt ceiling to ensure America pays its bills.
Legal scholars argue the President can invoke the 14th to prevent economic calamity if Congress fails to raise the debt limit. Unilaterally raising the debt ceiling using 14th Amendment powers remains controversial but may be necessary to avert catastrophe.
More responsible budgeting is something all four sides of the table can agree on, but in the meantime, there’s a crisis to handle.
The last time the Government shut down, it hurt the economy, meaning workers, professionals, small business owners, and the stock market.
And this time, we may default on US debt, which is about the same as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The US cannot run out of dollars. They’re the monopoly issuer of net financial assets.
A debt default risks the dollar losing its status as the world’s reserve currency. Perhaps the stupidest thing the world’s only superpower could do to itself.
To pay down the debt, the US has to run surpluses. The only problem is US government surpluses cause depressions.
In 1817, 1852, 1867, 1880, 1893, 1920, 1928, 1998-2001 the US government briefly ran rare budget surpluses, which were followed in short order by equally rare major economic crises – the Panics of 1819, 1857, 1873, 1893, and the Depressions of 1920-21 and 1929, and the Great Recession of 2008 (delayed by the sub-prime lending fiasco). The Great Recession was technically a Depression with 15% U-6 unemployment.
What’s the Flap?
Here are the pros and cons of the President invoking the 14th Amendment to avert a debt default, as seen through the eight ways of interpreting the Constitution.
- Textualism: While the text supports debt obligation authority, it does not explicitly approve overriding the ceiling without Congress.
- Original Meaning: Though perhaps intended as a safeguard, the founders likely didn’t envision unilateral executive borrowing power.
- Judicial Precedent: Courts have affirmed executive economic stability powers but deferred debt ceiling control to the legislature.
- Pragmatism: This prevents harm from default, though the severity required is debated.
- Moral Reasoning: Honoring commitments seems ethically correct, but bypassing Congress raises moral questions.
- National Identity: Paying debts reflects responsibility, yet undermining democratic norms does not.
- Structuralism: This maintains balance in a crisis but tests the balance of power between branches.
- Historical Practices: While considered previously, firm precedent for invoking the 14th this way is very limited.
If you want to get out of your news silo, pay attention to which schools of interpretation the Supreme Court justices use, case by case.
Are they retrofitting their rulings to suit their politics, or are they consistent with some mix of these schools?
This is especially interesting for liberty-led suits and justice-based suits.
An AI could rate each judge on their interpretive consistency. Would that be outside-the-silo news?
Since liberal justices tend towards Pragmatism and Moralism, and conservative justices towards Textualism, Originalism, and Structuralism, it’s hard to imagine how invoking the 14th Amendment to avoid a catastrophic debt default would be overruled if appealed. On face value, it looks like four schools of thought against one.
You can role-play this week’s puzzle at PolicyKeys.com. This week’s political flap started with our Monday Puzzle Drop article. Tuesday was the Tiebreaker of all the conflicted roles. Wednesday, we caught politically strange bedfellows dancing on the debt ceiling. Thursday, you and your political digital twin tipped back some tall cool reasoning.
Invoking the 14th Amendment
to Avoid a US Debt Default.
:Weighted-Average: Forecast of 128 Societal Roles
Super Nonpartisan Score
:84%: ± 2%
Table Sides 4/4
Info Walls 8/8
Culture Windows 16/16
Influence Rows 15/16
Bias Columns 8/8
Top Four Key Reasons IN FAVOR
of Invoking the 14th Amendment
We don’t need a self-inflicted recession
Economic growth usually requires deficits
The climate crisis requires deficit spending
Recessions are bad for public health
Top Four Key Reasons AGAINST
Invoking the 14th Amendment
We can’t afford the interest payments
The US should have a balanced budget
Blame Democrats for the shutdown
Unchecked US spending causes unwanted inflation
Four Odd Couples IN-FAVOR
Party Favor Democrats &
Party Favor Republicans
Urban Professionals &
Big Tech &
Four Odd Couples AGAINST
Rural Full Time &
Corporate Lobby &
Free Press &
Border and Order Republicans
Social Media &
We dish on all the juicy details in the Politically Strange Bedfellows Wednesday article.
Four Aha Moments
(YES) $20T debt didn’t cause unwanted inflation
(YES) US government surpluses cause depressions
(NO) Both parties can agree on redundancy cuts
(NO) The dollar will decline on foreign markets
Politics 4.0’s DNA
Here’s a summary of the primary political forces: A for Abundance, C for Commerce, G for Governance, and T for Thrift.
Abundance: Using the 14th Amendment to prevent a debt default could create an atmosphere of fiscal predictability, enabling both public and private sectors to plan and invest with greater confidence.
Thrift: By averting a default, the 14th Amendment safeguards the nation’s creditworthiness, potentially saving taxpayers billions in future interest payments.
Commerce: Avoiding a debt default through the 14th Amendment can stabilize markets, thereby preserving business confidence and encouraging investment.
Governance: Utilizing the 14th Amendment ensures the continuity of government operations, upholding social contracts and maintaining public trust.
The 14th Amendment to
Protect the Full Faith and Credit of the USA
— Near Consensus —
POLI found NEAR CONSENSUS support. Our editors agreed. We predict an 84% ±2 (6 roles) NEAR CONSENSUS of roles in this country to support the 14TH AMENDMENT TO PROTECT THE FULL FAITH AND CREDIT OF THE USA, including a majority of each of the four sides of the political table, making this a US Public Policy Leaderboard (US-PPL) worthy idea.
90% and up Near Unanimous
80% – 89% NEAR CONSENSUS
75% -79% Vast Supermajority
67% – 74% Strong Supermajority
60% – 66% Supermajority
50% – 59% Majority
Do we expect you to agree with the supermajority on all the rankings? Of course not; you’re human, not a political parrot.
We think you’ll agree with the leaderboard about 3 out of 4 items on average. Why?
The average score of the policies on the PolicyKeys™ US Public Policy Leaderboard (US-PPL) Sweet Sixteen is 76%, with many above 80%—Politics 4.0 is already a 2x to 5x better model of US political sentiment and direction than politics as usual.
US Median Household Income
St Louis Fed
Average Household Debt
US Total Net Worth
The Rise and Fall of American Growth
Princeton University Press
The Clinton Surplus
U6 Unemployment over 15% in 2008
St Louis Fed
The 2030s Great Depression
Why America Will Remain the World’s Only Superpower
American Enterprise Institute
How much would a debt default damage the US?
Christian Science Monitor
The Validity of the Public Debt Shall Not Be Questioned